James Kalm has been covering art fairs for over fifteen years now, and between work for his hard copy reviews, and video tours, he’s visited dozens and dozens of them. Unfortunately, there appears to be trouble in paradise. Even some of New York’s most successful galleries are joining the debate, and grumbling about the costs and other pressures that these fairs are putting on the creative community. Your correspondent even passed on the recent Armory Show weekend and, just to avoid the glut, skipped at least five fairs. Although visiting the Frieze show, there will be no coverage of that event this year.
Perhaps the most impressive piece your reporter saw this weekend wasn’t on Randell’s Island, but at the Contemporary African Art Fair at Pioneer Works in Red Hook. Viewers are invited to saunter through the fifth iteration of this show in the Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood. One notable exhibit is Ralph Ziman’s “SPOEK 1”, a reclaimed Casspir armored vehicle that Ralph has covered with panels of traditional bead work. These patterns were made by artisans from Zimbabwe and the Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa. Although designed originally as a military vehicle, the Casspir was used extensively as a means to oppress civilians in the townships and urban areas during the apartheid era. There are twenty-one gallery booths and special projects by about sixty artists. This program was recorded May 5, 2018 in Brooklyn.